My wife and I took our three children to Dallas for Thanksgiving this year which inspired this article. As American Airlines Advantage members - I travel every week for speaking engagements - somehow one of our seats ended up being in first class - my wife's ironically. She was the one who booked the reservations. Hmmm. Nice try!

The rest of the seats were in a row towards the back of the plane with the rest of the families with babies and toddlers. So we took five seats in the back and waited for the lucky sole who would unknowingly be offered the golden ticket to first class.

As fate would have it, he was a young man literally on his way to U.S. Army boot camp! What a killer way to begin your military career! He was so shocked he almost said no, but we insisted.

"It's either first class or you get to deal with whiny toddlers and screaming babies," I reminded him.

He quickly gathered his things and raced for the front of the plane.

The remainder of the trip inspired me to share this invaluable tool kit that all parents need to survive and thrive this holiday season.

Prepare Accordingly
Avoid Traveling on the Worst Days
Pack the Right Gear
take care of your gear and your gear will take care of you
Get the "Lap Child" a Freaking Seat
Avoid Family Drama
Be Present
Try Not to Break the Kids' Routines
Offer to Take Another Family's Picture
Overestimate Time for Troop Mobilization
Leave Extra Room in Your Bags
Leave Yourself A Day or Two to Decompress

These are just a few tips to get you started. So go forth onto your holiday battlefield - good luck!